1920's Minnesota 13

1920 to 1925. This era in the American experience was unique in many ways, not the least of which was the legal prohibition of the manufacture and use of alcoholic beverages.

Prohibition well intended, but it was impossible to enforce the legislation meant to preserve the moral fabric of the society. Many of the pious felt society was drowning in a sea of alcoholic abuse and promiscuity (this sounds familiar). The human desire for occasional intoxication mixed with prohibition, led to a situation in which more people (rather than less) became criminals. Interest in booze did not disappear but rather went underground. (or into the back forty, if you follow my drift). 

Minnesota 13. This was the name for home distilled (brew) or moonshine made in Minnesota. It was illegal. But with a weakening economy an alternative source of income was needed. The ingredients had to be purchased in several locations to avoid suspicion. Minnesota corn was easy enough to get in large quantities, but large quantities of sugar and yeast were usually reported to Federal agents. Yet Minnesotans persevered and from as far away as New York and California, it was said, that people in soft drink parlors (what we would now call a bar) were asking for Minnesota 13. 

In most small operations the distilling unit (still) used to produce the liquor was a wash boiler. The wash boiler was a copper tub used to heat water for washing clothes. When the lid was welded on and a "worm" (a coiled copper pipe) fitted to the lid, a still was born. The brew that boiled in the still condensed into steam and was lead into containers. This crude but efficient apparatus was at the heart of an industry that while illegal, was yet the mainstay of many farm families before and during the Depression. On the farm, back in the woods, that was the place to cook the mash. If any other site or location was used, the smell of mash working and being cooked would reveal the location of the still. 

Joeseph Alexander Studer met the situation head on, doing the only thing that a proper God-fearing Catholic could do under similar circumstances. He started distilling the finest bourbon in Benton County. Through his connections (relatives) in Avon he secured the recipe and secrets of the still. He and his son Robert then cooked moonshine before and throughout the days of prohibition. Lest the casual observer think that the Studer family was a group of thugs, let it be know that after the repeal of the prohibition laws, Joe A. choose to move on to a legitimate business. He purchased his first truck, a 1925 Model "T" Ford, and used it for hauling gravel to road construction sites. Later the truck was converted and used in the transportation of local cattle to the stockyards of South St. Paul. Thus was born the Joe A. Studer and Sons Livestock Hauling Co. As the company prospered Joe A. and Margaret finally begin to entertain their long-time dream of "owning" their own farm. In 1929 they found a farm for sale located three fourths of a mile east of the Mayhew Lake church with 120 acres of farmland, of which 40 acres was taken up by Mayhew Lake itself. They bought the farm at the price of $7,500.00.